By Bob Humphrey
Fishing season is upon us, which means it’s time to strap the rods and tackle box on your four-wheeler, load the cooler and a cook stove on your Viking, or trailer up the boat and head for the local river, lake, stream or pond. But bear in mind, fishing the first open water may call for different techniques than later in the season.
Pike, Pickerel and Muskies - As the ice goes out, sometimes even before, water wolves move into the shallows to spawn. The best locations are the shallow weedy bays and river mouths. Live or dead suckers in the 4- to 8-inch range are a good bait choice and heavy mono or steel leaders are de rigeur, the former being less apt to spook these toothy predators.
Salmon and Lake Trout - Landlocked Atlantic and Pacific salmon get hungry as the water warms up and forage fish move into the shallows and up the tributaries to spawn. Early morning often produces the best action trolling live smelt, streamer fly patterns, or spoons and wobblers. A fish finder can be a big help finding schools of bait. Shore fisherman should target tributary mouths and use bobbers to keep live bait near the surface. Or, you can use in-line bobbers to cast a fly.
Trout - Trout will also be cruising the shoreline and so should you. The best method for boaters is slow-trolling small, diving plugs. Shore fishermen usually opt for the old standbys like a worm and a bobber or salmon eggs.
Bass - The big fish probably won’t move into the shallows until the weed beds re-grow. Troll along or cast to drop-offs where big fish will be cruising. And you don’t necessarily need to be out there at the crack of dawn. The action heats up with the water temperatures.